Scotland sets out to reopen historic sites as COVID-19 restrictions ease

Scotland’s historic sites get ready to lower their drawbridges once more following the Scottish Government’s route map to lift restrictions across mainland Scotland.

Historic Environment Scotland (HES), which is Scotland’s biggest operator of visitor attractions, has set out its plans for the reopening of its sites as Covid restrictions ease. They are adopting a phased approach to reopen its properties, with over 70% of its free to access and ticketed properties reopening on Friday 30 April following the Scottish Government’s proposed dates for the reopening of the tourism sector and mainland Scotland moving to covid protection level 3.


This will see some of Scotland’s most iconic heritage sites, including Edinburgh Castle, Stirling Castle, Fort George and Caerlaverock Castle, reopen to the public in line with Scottish Government guidelines. This will also include access to over 200 unstaffed and key-keeper sites across Scotland where HES can provide free and safe access and where physical distancing can be readily maintained. HES also plans to re-open further sites across Scotland as part of a rolling programme of re-opening over the coming months.

“Scotland’s heritage attractions are a key part of our tourism sector both nationally and at a local community level, and contribute to our individual wellbeing, so we’re delighted to once again be opening sites up across the country,” says Alex Paterson, Chief Executive of HES. “This will see us reopen all of the sites we reopened last year on the 30 April as well as further sites across the country on a phased based over the upcoming months.


“As always, the safety of our staff and visitors has been at the forefront of our planning, enabling safe access to our properties in line with Scottish Government guidance and our minimum operating standards which underpin our approach. We’re also pleased to tell the story of the sites through technology so visitors have the opportunity to experience the old and the new when they are exploring some of our most iconic sites and enjoying a piece of 5,000 years of history.”

As part of the reopening, visitors, including members, will be required to pre-book tickets online and to use contactless payment where possible; one-way systems will be implemented in some locations; and some areas of sites, such as enclosed spaces, will be closed off to visitors. Visitor numbers will also be limited for safety reasons.

The full list of ticketed sites reopening on Friday 30 April are:

Aberdour Castle
Arbroath Abbey
Blackness Castle
Caerlaverock Castle
Craigmillar Castle
Dirleton Castle
Doune Castle
Dryburgh Abbey
Dunblane Cathedral
Dundonald Castle
Dunfermline Abbey
Edinburgh Castle
Elgin Cathedral
Fort George
Glasgow Cathedral
Huntly Castle
Inchcolm Abbey
Jedburgh Abbey
Linlithgow Palace
Melrose Abbey
St Andrews Castle
St Andrews Cathedral
Skara Brae
Stirling Castle
Tantallon Castle
Urquhart Castle

Please visit the Historic Environment Scotland for more details

Top Image: Doune Castle – photo by Alasdair / Flickr